Factories have risky deficiencies, offices often unprepared, experts say A large proportion of Greek factories have not been built to withstand the pressure of an earthquake and many offices lack basic safety features, seismic experts revealed yesterday. The results of a government-backed survey on over 1,000 buildings in Athens and Crete showed that most buildings «need improvements,» experts told a press conference in Athens. Also, many offices do not have accessible exits and reinforced stairwells, according to the experts, who compiled a list of recommendations. CYPRUS SNUB Nicosia rebuffs British FM after meeting with Talat is confirmed Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has refused to meet British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw later this month after the latter confirmed that he would be meeting Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat in the Turkish-held north of the island, Nicosia revealed yesterday. Straw, who is due to visit Cyprus on January 24, said he would be meeting Talat at his office in northern Cyprus, Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou said after speaking to Straw on the phone. Nicosia had objected to the official nature of the planned visit. QUAKE AID Millions to go toward damaged homes The Public Works Ministry said yesterday that it will pay out 2.75 million euros in compensation, mostly in the form of interest-free loans, to people on the islands of Crete and Kythera whose homes or businesses were damaged by the 6.9 Richter earthquake that struck earlier this month. Parliament humming Independent MP Stefanos Manos yesterday questioned in Parliament the government's recent decision to buy a number of US-made Hummer vehicles for the army through Greek military equipment firm ELVO. Manos claimed that the vehicles were available for $121,000 in the USA but the Greek government paid $235,000 for each Hummer. Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos replied that the vehicles bought by Greece had different specifications from the ones usually available on the market. Struggling Greeks Most Greeks (62 percent) have economic difficulties with more than half (52 percent) unable to pay for a week's holiday every year, according to statistics made public yesterday by the European Commission's statistics service Eurostat. One in five (19 percent) of Greeks cannot afford to adequately heat their homes. Turkey pressured Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, yesterday stressed the need for Turkey to respect all aspects of a customs deal with the bloc, including allowing Cypriot ships and aircraft to use its ports and airports. The customs pact is «a clear commitment by Turkey,» he said. Schuessel also reiterated the EU's support for United Nations efforts to relaunch peace talks on the island. Mine collapse The partial collapse of a Public Power Corporation (PPC) lignite mine in Florina yesterday had been anticipated and did not cause any injuries to workers who had been moved away, the PPC said yesterday. Measures had been implemented after experts confirmed the existence of a geological rupture and underground water deposits at the site, the PPC said. Melting morsels Inspectors seized 87 kilos of frozen spinach and cheese pies from a large supermarket in Thessaloniki, local officials said yesterday. The products were confiscated and destroyed on Monday after checks revealed that the freezers in which they were stored were not properly working.